As I mentioned last week, Saturday was Open Monument Day here in Utrecht. We did end up visiting the Academiegebouw over in the Domplein and had a really great experience. It’s a beautiful building and I’ll post more about it this week once I get the photos sorted and uploaded. For now, here’s a photo of one of the staircases.
As I stood there looking down, I couldn’t help but think of the artist M.C. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist known for his mind-bending, maze-like designs. His piece titled Relativity is the work that the staircase reminded me of specifically. It’s not the first time I’ve taken a photo here and had thoughts of Escher. Sometimes the different planes and angles of rooftops and balconies can create some disorienting images.
Sometimes there’s stuff that comes up that doesn’t fit any one theme. This is one of those days. The following is a collection of various news stories, things to do, and a tiny bit of bragging.
It probably won’t make the news outside of the Netherlands and Germany, but we had an earthquake here in the Netherlands last night. It was a 4.5, but fairly shallow, although still supposedly felt across a fairly long distance. But no, I didn’t feel it. There was one in my part of Queens while I was living in New York, but I didn’t feel that one, either. Fortunately, there was no real damage other than the odd greenhouse getting a bit wobbly. It’s unusual in that the Netherlands doesn’t sit on the edge of any tectonic plates, so we don’t usually get earthquakes, although there was a bigger one in 1992 that caused some damage. Between the heavy rain and storms and now the earthquake, I might as well be back on the east coast of the US!
Tomorrow is Open Monument Day here in Utrecht. Many historic buildings in both the city center and the outer areas of the city will be open to the public. The theme is New Uses for Old Buildings, with an emphasis on buildings that have changed their purpose over the years. For example, the Louis Hartlooper Complex used to be a police station, but is now a movie theater, among other things. I think we’ll probably go explore a few buildings, like the Academiegebouw and the University Library over on the Drift.
And now the bragging bit. It seems my blog was included in a Greentraveller Guide to Utrecht. Considering I was the only blog specifically that was included, I’m feeling pretty chuffed. That’s enough about that, though.
This post is heavy on pictures, light on history. Plus, I think I covered most of the pertinent information about the building last week when I posted about the special opening of the building to the public. On the outside, it looks like a massive, dark behemoth of a building, and inside, you still get that feeling with the dark hallways and ever-present brick.
It’s a bit like a cross between a castle dungeon and some of the oppressive-yet-fanciful buildings seen in films like Brazil or Metropolis. Of course, the comparison with Metropolis isn’t such a stretch, since both the film and the building are connected with German Expressionism. It was easy to imagine workers moving in ordered, quick procession through the hallways, perhaps with the sound of chugging trains overlaid. After all, this building has been used for ProRail offices. Still, if you make a wrong turn or misbehave, you may find yourself disappearing down a darkened staircase, twisting and turning.
You may even end up wrapped in heavy chains!
Still, there always seemed to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
There was even light at the top of the tallest tower.
And throughout the building, there were beautiful windows set back in their brick niches.
And the brick, itself, was often quite beautiful with different colors of glazes that helped to create subtle but attractive patterns.
From the looks of things, it also seems to be only the hallways and staircases that are so dark and heavy. The offices all looked quite spacious and bright.
It’s a stylish building, with attractive furnishings throughout, as well as the cheerful orange carpet that suits the walls so well.
It’s an imposing building and certainly isn’t bound to be everyone’s taste, but I couldn’t help falling in love with it a bit. It’s a monstrous beauty.
The full set of photos can be seen in my Inktpot Flickr set.